Elections in Bolivia

Progress for indigenous communities must be maintained! (Press Release)

Next Sunday, October 18, is election day in Bolivia. "Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of South America, has made significant progress in representing the interests of the country's indigenous people in politics and society – regarding the recognition of indigenous rights and their political participation," stated Juliana Miyazaki, expert on indigenous communities at the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP). "However, his behavior towards the end of his term of office has damaged the reputation of Bolivian democracy. Clean elections and a smooth transfer of power would also be in the interest of the indigenous population of the country. The previous elections were held almost exactly one year ago. After irregularities and protests, Morales had to leave the country – and political stability has not yet been restored.

Although large parts of the population have indigenous roots – more than 60 percent of the people in Bolivia describe themselves as indigenous – there are no promising candidates with an indigenous background this year. Luis Arce and Carlos Mesa currently seem to have the best chances. Arce was Minister of Finance under Evo Morales and is running for the socialist party MAS. Mesa is running for the bourgeois Comunidad Ciudadana. During the election campaign, the Christian fundamentalist candidate Fernando Camacho of the Creemos ("We Believe") party got a lot of attention through anti-indigenous rhetoric. "We are concerned that anti-indigenous tendencies in the population, which have become more prominent again since the 2019 elections, will gain political relevance – undermining the positive developments," Miyazaki warned.

Bolivia was severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic in recent months. Among the country's eleven million inhabitants, there have been almost 140,000 infections, and about 8,400 people have died of Covid-19 in Bolivia so far. It is difficult to predict how the pandemic and the necessary precautions will affect indigenous participation in the elections.